There are a few crime trends happening nationally that, unfortunately, have reached our region. Car theft, especially of older Hyundai and Kia models, is on the rise across the area.
The Department of Public Safety is participating in a regional law enforcement effort to address a sudden uptick in vehicle theft across the Rochester area. Public Safety Chief Gerald Pickering answers some questions about the situation:
Some Hyundai and Kia cars and SUVs are missing an important anti-theft device, making them an easy target for car thieves. Their engines lack immobilizer systems, an electronic security device that prevents a car from being started without the correct key. Monroe County has reported nearly 30 stolen Kia/Hyundai cars in November alone, and there have been a handful of thefts and attempted thefts in University parking lots as well.
Kias made between 2010 and 2022 and Hyundais made between 2015 and 2022 don’t have engine immobilizers. The thieves typically break a window and start the vehicle with very simple tools.
When a car is reported stolen, our officers do an extensive search of the area immediately. We coordinate our investigations with dozens of other law enforcement agencies across the state, sharing information on a frequent basis. Information about stolen vehicles is entered into law enforcement databases in order to track license plates
We’re finding that many of the stolen vehicles are used to commit additional crimes and then discarded. I want to emphasize here that car owners themselves can play a big role in helping us solve and deter these crimes. If you report your car as stolen and you are contacted by one of our officers, please respond quickly and provide as much information as possible. Be sure to let the investigating officers know, for example, if your car has an E-Z Pass and/or an “ONSTAR” type locating system. Investigations take time, but we have made progress in identifying suspects and, in some cases, retrieving the stolen vehicles.
You could contact a Kia or Hyundai car dealer about a manufacturer’s security fix kit. Another option is to purchase a steering wheel lock. I know this may seem old school, but they are a lot less expensive than a car alarm. Thieves can see that there’s a big lock on your steering wheel, and that will be a strong deterrent. Our officers continue to provide proactive, preventive foot and vehicle patrols in public spaces across the University as another visible deterrent for crime and theft.
Yes. That’s another national trend that has reached us. Catalytic converters have been targeted because they contain valuable metals. The parts are easy for an expert thief to remove, especially if you drive a hybrid vehicle, SUV or truck. DPS, along with the Monroe County Task Force, have made numerous arrests of suspects in the last few days. The catalytic converter task force is run by the Monroe County Sheriff’s office but has members from all ten local law enforcement agencies (city, towns, and villages) as well as the New York State Police and law enforcement agencies in the surrounding counties.
If you are a victim or witness to any crime, we urge you to contact University Public Safety immediately—call or text 585-275-3333. If the crime is in progress or poses an immediate threat, call our emergency number x13, pick up any Blue Light Emergency Phone, or dial #413 from AT&T or Verizon cell phones in the Rochester area. If the crime involves property but does not pose an immediate threat, call 585-275-3333. We will notify other police agencies as needed.